For any business, the key to stability is growth. It is an indicator that things are working, that the cogs are turning smoothly and that your leadership is encouraging the productivity needed to attain greater levels of profitability.
How can you aim for growth as a business owner? It all starts with a change of perspective and all long-term successful leaders share the three following traits.
Think Of Management In Terms Of Solutions, Not Problems
Your business has started to see growth, good for you! Month after month, you find yourself fulfilling more orders. Suddenly, you realize that your current rate of growth isn’t sustainable; you’ve hit a cash flow wall and you can’t afford to fulfil customer orders – or, worse, make payroll. How do you respond?
If your response is to point fingers, reconsider how you discuss business matters with employees. Does your workplace have a high turnover rate? Problem-oriented leadership could be a reason for this. Of course, an understanding of why current problems exist is necessary so they can be prevented in the future – but your interaction with employees should be built on a solution-oriented discussion. Playing the “blame game” will create fearful, unenthusiastic, and disaffected employees: Your core message should not consist of negativity.
Entrepreneurs often take a reductive approach to goal-making, which can negatively impact their ability to establish clear expectations. For example, noting that expenditures are 20 percent higher than they should be, then simply stating “our new company-wide goal is to reduce expenditures by 20 percent” may seem like an obvious solution – but it isn’t a solution at all. How will costs be lowered? How will each employee be held accountable? If your goals are not actionable, effective expectations cannot be established.
There is an unappreciated science to the act of establishing clear expectations to employees. It requires a thorough understanding of underlying problems, as well as how each employee impacts your business’s performance. Get involved. Get specific.
In this scenario, it is more appropriate to determine where cost-saving measures can be implemented, then instructing employees in each role on ways they will be expected to reduce those costs. Give them the tools needed to achieve these goals. Create measurable expectations and hold employees accountable for following through. This solution-oriented approach to management will doubtlessly lead to more overall growth.
The Ability To Let Go Of Problematic Employees
Whether it’s because they believe in giving employees a second (or third, or fourth) chance, or because they’ve made the mistake of hiring friends and family and can’t bear spoiling their personal relationships, small business owners frequently have trouble letting go of problematic employees. Rampant absenteeism, negative attitudes, theft, and other unproductive behavior should not be tolerated in the workplace.
If you have an employee that underperforms or engages in toxic behavior, try to assess the reason. Engage the employee in a one-on-one discussion. Are they dissatisfied with their work for a specific reason? Are they going through issues such as family problems or mental illness? If you can offer or suggest resources to alleviate the problem, you may be able to resolve the issue without the need to search for a new job candidate.
You know the signs of when an employee should be fired. If an employee is consistently proving to be a liability, even after discussions, review the past feedback you’ve given to them. Have you established clear expectations? Have you warned them, and given them specific goals to remediate their behavior? If so, and they are not improving, it is time to let them go.
There is a common thread between retail brands that have endured throughout the years: Their leaders have proven to be willing to change with the times. As noted by author Dr. Debasish Mridha, ““The measure of a person’s strength is not his muscular power or strength, but it is his flexibility and adaptability.” Business growth requires adaptable leaders.
There are many practical ways you can embrace change to promote growth. For example, telecommuting is a growing trend in businesses across the globe. The Wall Street Journal has noted that there is a direct relationship between telecommuting and revenue growth. Be willing to explore offering this option to experienced employees. Prepare employees to become successful telecommuters by teaching them (or hiring someone to teach them) about how to use personal hotspots, Wi-Fi range extenders, mobile work applications, and virtual private networks.
You should help your employees adapt in a similar manner. This will help them to maintain consistent levels of productivity, regardless of changes in the workplace. Whether you need to change locations or adopt new software, employee adaptability is necessary. Adaptability can be fostered through small, gradual improvements. In addition, you should be transparent about the need for such changes.
Getting out of the “startup slump” may be a challenge, but doing so will ensure a bright, sustainable future for your company. By adopting these leadership traits, you can ensure that your business will see growth. Being solution-oriented and letting go of toxic employees will generate a positive, productive environment. Being willing to embrace change will allow you to take advantage of new technologies, giving you a competitive edge in your market. Regardless of your industry, adopting a constructive mindset will pay off in more ways than you could imagine.